Stunt Dress (Don't Try This At Home)

Valentine's Dress

As you may or may not know, I recently wrote a book about love words in other languages (That's Amore). As part of the giant publicity blitz for said book (you may have also heard me on the radio in Michigan and Albany, NY), there was a short feature in Chicago Magazine about it. With a photo (of me, not the book jacket). For which the photographer asked if I could wear something red.

Well, that, of course, was like a flag (of the same color) to a bull: why not, I reasoned (although I'm not sure if "reason" really came into it), go all-out and make a Valentine's-themed dress? Something I'd never wear in civilian life, but would be fun for a photo shoot? I'm not usually a fan of stunt clothing, but this seemed easy enough to do, so I did it.

The fabric is Alexander Henry "Tattoo Hearts" (sadly, no longer available in the red colorway from eQuilter, but the buttercream is now on sale …) and the pattern is Simplicity 4532, which was quite easy to make.

Here's a closeup of the bodice:

Valentine's Dress

Now, I probably won't wear this dress very much (not even today, because even though it's Valentine's there's about a foot of snow outside). I might even cut it down for a skirt, which would be more wearable. But making it was a fun way to spend a few hours, certainly …

not exactly what is usually meant by "basket case"

1940s basketweave dress

Beth sent me (I don't want to tell you how long ago) this link to The University of Virginia Collection of Historic Dress … well worth spending a little while (by "little while", of course, I mean "the rest of the working day") clicking around it.

This dress is, quite simply, heart-stoppingly gorgeous.

1940s basketweave dress

Wouldn't you want to wear this with yellow satin shoes and clutch, and (of course) yellow diamonds? Or at least citrines?

I hope someone who's attending the Oscars decides to wear something like this. Maybe I should start posting "Oscar Dress Suggestions 2007". Send me links and I will!

Secret Lives of Dresses Vol. 11

secret lives of dresses 11

"Oh, honey," is what I want to say. I want somebody to say "oh, honey, I know, I know," to her, and pat her on the back, and bring her a cup of tea. I want someone to hand her a tissue, and I want someone to take her to the movies, and I want someone to understand her as well as I do.

I don't want her to be falling asleep with the radio on, shows she doesn't even like, just because she can't fill up the house with only her own voice. I don't want her to be eating one solitary, unwinking egg, dinner after lunch after breakfast after dinner, just because washing up more than that one pan and that one plate and that one fork is too much for her to handle. I don't want her refrigerator to have only eggs and milk on the verge of turning in it, but I also don't want her to be driving to the next town over to do her grocery shopping, just because she can't face one more too-familiar face screwed up into that "I don't know what to say" grimace. I don't want any of that.

I don't want her to be sitting there, striking matches, just for their sweet sharp sulfurous smell, or lighting one of the cigarettes left in the pack just to watch the lazy arabesques of the smoke as it rises. I don't want her to be setting two places out of habit, and then standing there, staring at the other place. And yet I don't want her to wearily put that other plate and napkin away, either.

I don't want her to stand over the phone as it rings, and then snatch for it just as it stops. I don't want to hear her say "Nothing. I'm fine." to the person on the line, or "Tuesday's not good for me. Wednesday — no, not Wednesday either; maybe next week." I don't want her to pick up the receiver and then put it down again, realizing that there's no number to call.

I don't want her to fold the laundry and then, crying, dump it all back in the basket, furiously unmatching those socks. I don't want her to hang up that coat and then throw it over the back of the chair again, or to move those boots from the doorway to the closet and back, over and over.

I don't want her to pick up the book that was on the arm of the chair, and read the right-hand page over and over again. I don't want her to flip the calendar back to May again.

I don't want her to sit there with that watch pressed against her ear, listening to the ticking. I don't want her turning that lucky piece over and over in her hands.

I don't want her to pass by me in the closet, reaching for that black cotton shirtdress again. I don't want her to jerk her comb through her hair, not even looking in the mirror. I don't want her not to notice that she's wearing two different shoes. I don't want her to notice that other people have.

I don't want her to be so bereft. I don't like that there's nothing I can do. And I especially don't like knowing that there's nothing anyone can do.

I want there to be something to do.

Fabric Desensitization Therapy

Because I'm really, really serious about this plan of only sewing bright yellow, gray, grass green, orange, and baby blue this summer (okay and maybe a teeny bit of red, which I guess means that I'm only really giving up pink, which I'm tired of, and purple, which I never wear anyway …)

Where was I?

Okay, the plan is to look at a LOT of fabric, and then that will dull my senses and I won't just buy the shiny things that catch my eye, like this one, which I don't even know WHY I like, or what I would make out of it:

people fabric

I think I'm liking the joke of "the man in the gray flannel suit-dress" … but that's not really justification.

I also don't have any justification for this:

fishes fabric

I guess it's just the idea of turning yourself into a koi pond. It just seems so … peaceful.

Of course, this one is perfect, and fits my "plan":

gleam fabric

But for some reason I'm not tempted to buy it right now. I guess the desensitization plan is working TOO well …

Everything in Moderation

Vera Wang gold

I'm afraid that the spam comments have gotten so bad that I'm going to have to enable comment moderation for this blog. I am going to moderation, starting tomorrow, because it's taking nearly half an hour a day to delete the spam comments individually. With Blogger's moderation feature, I can delete them all in a few seconds.

What does that mean for you, my lovely commenters? Well, your comments might not (will almost certainly not) appear immediately. (And they certainly won't appear right above or below one hawking various dubious prescription drugs.) Other than that, not much. (If you think your comment got mixed up with spam and erroneously deleted, email me, or just repost it.)

The Dress A Day Comments Policy will remain as it always has: no spam, and no outrageous personal attacks. What's an outrageous personal attack? That's when someone says something horrible about either another commenter or someone who sent in their dress picture … not about me. As the blogger, I'm always fair game. If you want to say I'm a cast-iron beeyotch whose only taste is in her mouth — go for it! Say that about somebody else, though, and the big red DELETE button gets pushed.

One more time — disallowed comments:

PERSONAL ATTACK (on another commenter): "You're stupid, and your mother dresses you funny. Oh, wait, you dressed YOURSELF?"

SPAM: "Hi! Nice desing [sic]! Visit my SITE [drug url redacted]!"

Allowed comments:

CONSIDERED ARGUMENT: "Your defense of the Peter Pan collar is wildly in error."

PERSONAL ATTACK (on Erin): "Erin, I can't believe they let you near a keyboard, much less a sewing machine. I wouldn't let my dog wear that dress. Do us all a favor and drop dead."

See? Very simple.

But what does all this have to do with this gold Vera Wang dress? Absolutely nothing. It's just lovely to look at, and it has pockets! The pockets push this from "I can't imagine myself wearing that in a million years" to "I can't imagine myself wearing that in a thousand years." (Even though it's really lovely, I don't have a gold lamé evening dress lifestyle. Not through lack of trying, though …) See the power of pockets? Thanks to Ellie in London for sending it in!

[Why am I not using CAPTCHA? This is why. Why am I not switching to WordPress with all their anti-spam plugins and whatnot? Because I'm damn lazy.]

Still With the Duro

teal and gold Duro

Well, since Catwalk Queen was nice enough to link to me yesterday, I will play true to type and show another Duro … but because I think a lot of you are going to dislike this color combo I'm shooting it in front of a busy background so as to give you something else to look at. (That handsome man on the wall over the dress form's shoulder? That's my grandfather, Fritz.)

This is in wool crepe, which I've washed so it's a little felty — I love it when wool's a little felty, it just has such a great texture and weight to it. The blue is a very peacocky blue, and the gold is downright mustard.

The colors are a little truer with my flash off:

teal and gold Duro

With any luck, because it's wool, it will be nice and warm for Thursday, when I am speaking on a panel at the Free Library of Philadelphia (where I am fighting WAY above my weight class, I can tell you: the other panelists are the amazing Mark Liberman, the charming [in his books, at least, but I expect he'll be so in person as well] and well-read Ben Yagoda, and the almost frighteningly erudite John McWhorter. I, my friends, I am the comic relief.) You should definitely come see it. (Just don't expect me to carry the show.)

I think I only have a couple Duros of my own left to show — and I have only one more cut out waiting to be finished, but I think that one's going to be a doozy. Hint: Darth Vader Fabric.


ebay item 300072079328

Keeley sent this link to me — isn't it fantabulous? I love the sash, obviously — what's not to love? I'm not as hipped on the bodice/neck/sleeves, but the sash makes up for any little quibbling doubts I might have had.

This is B38/W30 and is listed in the eBay store of Dorothea's Closet, for $157.

If I were going to make something like this, I'd try to figure out how to make interchangeable sashes; I'd want a bluey-green one, and a yallery-orange one, and even (for the height of sophistication) an oystery-gray/ivory one.

But, considering that my "to make" pile is growing exponentially, I won't get around to reverse-engineering it until about 2027. So you might as well buy it now. I'll come find you when I need it.

Isaac Mizrahi Wants to Sketch Your Dream Dress!

Isaac Mizrahi sketch-a-dress

You read that right. Isaac’s Style Book is launching a new feature called Sketch-A-Dress. Yep, think up a dress, any dress, even an impossible dress made of cotton candy with soap-bubble trim, or barbed wire and Christmas tinsel, and email Isaac with it; Isaac will then select his favorites and sketch them. The results will be published in issue no. 2 of Isaac’s Style Book (April 2007) and posted online.

Needless to say, when I heard about this — well, I typed so fast I thought my keyboard was going to overheat. Seriously, there was smoke, and a weird smell like burning hair. (Although maybe that last was coming from my head, as my neurons churned, and not the keyboard.)

Even if my dream dress isn't chosen (sob!) I can't wait to see what he does sketch. Isaac is a man who Truly Understands The Dress. He isn't always trying to "reinvent" it; he knows it's an ideal form (a la Plato) and is solely concerned with making the ideal real. Thus this contest!

So send 'em in! And cross your fingers (or hold your thumbs) for my entry …

Letters, We Write Letters

fred flare hemline stationery

A correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous sent me this link; I was lucky enough to get some of this stationery as a gift a while back so I figured everyone knew about it, but just in case, I'm posting it today. It's from Fred Flare, and it's $8 for 16 sheets and envelopes, plus cute little stickers …

I generally like Fred Flare, but if you value your eyeballs, don't go check out their new blog. The rule for replacing "s" with "z" at the end of a word? (As in "twins" becoming "twinz" and "girls" becoming "girlz") Is you get to do it SPARINGLY. Too much = not funny. Too much = really annoying. (Also, I don't need to see any more pictures of either Olsen twin, but maybe that's just me.)

And, while I'm dispensing dictats, can I remind you all of the spelling hint that differentiates "stationAry" (as in "and yet it (doesn't) move") and "stationEry" (cute paper to write letters on) is that the pEn that you use to write on stationEry has an "E", and so does stationEry itself. I have tons of these little hints, and I make up more all the time, which is kinda dumb of me as I think spelling talent is pretty much hereditary and is very hard to learn, at least in English. Yet still I try.

I have a rollicking head cold today and am moving about as fast as molasses uphill in January. In other words, I'm much more like stationAry than stationEry (which moves quite briskly through the mails). In fact, I think I'd better go lie down …